Teens4Unity for a world without hunger (Sharing of experiences)

In 2015, the 193 member states of the U.N. committed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals to help us create a better world for all. Objective number 2 focused on the elimination of hunger in the world by the year 2030.

On 8 September 2017, official representatives from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) met with a group from the International Focolare Youth Centres at the FAO Headquarters in Rome to make a specific request: to collaborate to reach this important goal of Zero Hunger.

The new generations of the Focolare Movement are now on the frontline with FAO in creating worldwide awareness and gathering adhesion towards reaching this goal. The commitment to eliminate hunger and poverty has always been closely linked to the vocation of the youth of the Focolare Movement in building a united world.

At the international meeting of 500 Teens4Unity of the Focolare held in Trent, Italy, early this year, on the occasion of Chiara Lubich’s birth centenary, the Indian delegation shared their commitment towards the ZeroHunger Challenge taken up by their peers worldwide.

Sahil (Delhi, 16 years): In our country we face problems like overpopulation, riots and other forms of violence, but one major problem is poverty. 385 million children worldwide are living in extreme poverty conditions and of these 30% live in India. I got to know about the ZeroHunger project at a Teens4Unity camp in Mumbai. We learnt that there is enough food and water on our planet for everyone, but some have too much and some have too little, so we thought of doing what we could do about it.

Sarah (Mumbai, 16 years): We conducted a newspaper drive to collect funds to address the same. The first time we went around our colony to collect old newspapers it was raining really heavily but we still went on. We gave the money collected to an NGO that works to help underprivileged kids pay their school fees. In eight months our group collected and sold 1000 kgs of newspapers, and over 100 kgs of food, books and clothes, getting over 200 families in our area involved.

Ethan (Mumbai, 14 years): An activity we did was a sponsored Run4Unity. We were at a big event in Mumbai and we explained to the adults about ZeroHunger. We asked them to sponsor us for running many laps on the sports ground. We earned a good amount of money, and so we did the same sponsored run again at a camp for kids to spread the word among as many people as possible.

Shelton (Goa, 13 years): We learnt how to prepare pizza to sell and make money for the ZeroHunger project. Recently, we met to see how to take ahead our work for the ZeroHunger project and we found that a major problem we needed to tackle is the use of plastic which destroys our environment. So we learnt how to make paper bags and distributed them to replace plastic.

Nicole and Cristiano (Bangalore, 12 and 14 years): Some of us got together and cooked food for more than a hundred poor children who go to a school in our area. Later on we realized that we did not have enough money to continue this project so we decided to hold a garage sale. We gathered various items from our neighbourhood to sell, and managed to raise 50,000 rupees.

Jessica and Risa (Mumbai, 16 and 14 years): During our holidays four of us volunteered to teach music and dance to kids who are helped by a project called Udisha which assists children from underprivileged families who cannot afford education and other extracurricular activities. We taught them a few songs and Indian dance. They enjoyed it and so did we! Our differences were forgotten and sharing our talents united us. It gave us great happiness to see the smiles on their faces as they experienced the joy of music through songs and dance.

Calvin and Kimberley (Mumbai, 15 and 16 years): We discovered that we can learn from the many organisations working to find poverty solutions. One such organization is the Shanti Ashram in Coimbatore which was founded by the Aram family who are followers of Mahatma Gandhi. One of their projects is the Food Bank where food grains are collected and distributed to poor families. Every day kilos of grains are collected and distributed to families in the area around the Ashram. This gave us the idea to start a similar project in Mumbai, and we began collecting food grains which we give monthly to an organization that helps HIV affected families.

Another project of the Shanti Ashram is the Piggy Bank Project, where school children save money in a piggy bank to help other children. The money saved is shared in three parts, as Shanti Ashram took up the idea of the Economy of Communion of the Focolare: one part for the child, one part for his family and one part goes to the poor. So far more than 100,000 school children have been involved in the Piggy Bank Savings Project and more than 33,000 children have been able to study with the funds received from these savings.

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Rose Aloysius

Rose Aloysius from Mumbai is deeply passionate about the culture of unity and universal brotherhood promoted by the Focolare Movement, and actively promotes all that teenagers, children and youth contribute towards it.